Saturday, December 22, 2012

Picture Post - Glimpses of Africa

Tarantula-sized guardian of the bathtub (one we did not use) at our friend's house.
Kids flock to my family.

Me & my love of my life/ awesome companion on this wild adventure!

Awesomeness in a tree.
A regular road in these parts

Our cuties in a cabana - just kidding! It's a mud hut.

A friend's village - notice the natural fence of cactus
Vehicle at the compound in the capital

Yes, that's chickens tied to the top of a taxi.

Beautiful African Sunset
Ethan's first day in Africa, he played in charcoal - pic reminds me to pray for our neighbors here

Flaming Bread to kill flies eggs/germs

Local 2 mo.old orphan baby, who is now cared for by a colleague

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rough Roads

Road Trips to the Middle of No Where

We've been in Africa for 3 weeks or so now. We've driven a lot on really bad roads. There are some that are literally pock-marked by gigantic pot holes. We knew the roads would be bad, but not this bad & we have some worse ones to travel yet! So far, not much of a problem with motion-sickness thanks to Dramamine. Though on our last trip, Laura's Dramamine did not kick in right away & she ended up with vertigo & a 5 hour trip took much longer due to the needing to stop for her to toss her cookies 8 or so times. At one point we stopped to try to allow her meds to kick in and she laid down on the road, to try to stop the spinning, strategically resting in front of our vehicle to keep from getting hit by trucks bounding down the dirt road. Villagers came out of the bushes to stare and ask if we were ok. Some people took pictures! They were really curious & concerned for this sick foreigner. I bet it was quite a sight to see a white woman laying on the road with her husband kneeling, fanning her with a hand fan! 
Later down the road, we had to stop due to traffic backed up by two trucks stuck in the mud. One had overturned and the other determined it could not pass without tipping once it made it to the middle of the bog. Africans are so resourceful. They took a tire off the overturned truck to allow the other one space to pass and the traffic cleared up in 45 minutes! Thankfully, a dose of Dramamine started to take effect during that stop, and the swerving and constant bumping did not bother Laura anymore. We got in well after dark – not a great idea to drive at night here. It's dark with no street lights, so pot-holes jump out at you, and you never know what will be crossing the road (even at 10pm): people, cows, sheep, ducks... Needless to say, we rested up for a few days after that rough trip. All throughout we kept thanking the Lord that our car had A/C & was able to keep trekking after getting some bad gas that caused us to stall 15 times while we were driving. Reaching out to the unreached doesn't come without some challenges. Thankfully, we've had some decent road trips since this one.

In the Village

First village orientation.
So our village orientation has begun. We’ve spent a week living in a hut & pumping water from a well & learning some greetings. We’ve watched women carry huge buckets on their heads, seen men come back from the fields with a harvest of maize, peanuts, and manioc. It’s hot and dusty in the village. It’s been interesting. There are some big bugs in the latrine at night, & nightly trips to the latrine are disliked by every member of our family, but oh well, nature calls. Hut life isn’t so bad, but not my favorite either. It’s definitely doable and I can see the value of being in a village.

The village community is different from city life & as new-comers, we had a bit of adjusting to do. Each day, we would have 20-30 kids come to the yard to see our “too-ba-boo” children (foreigners or white people). Lots of kids wanted to touch our daughter’s red hair. She felt overwhelmed by all the little reaching hands. Some kids were nice and wanted to befriend us. Others were just amazed to see people so different. Young kids would stare and laugh sometimes. Some teens brought a new friend each day to come and take pictures of us on their cell phones. We felt odd in this new celebrity role. As our son played soccer with the other children, I felt like our kids were taking part in a daily routine of monkey-in-the-middle, where our kids were the in the middle. Watching foreigners is like watching TV for villagers. The adults on the other hand, were quite friendly and helpful – always greeting us and shooing away impolite gawkers. Our last night in this village, we had a dance party. (Those of you who don’t agree with dancing, don’t faint.) It was a way to make a memory, one African woman told me as we danced and laughed. They seemed impressed with my dance skills (that would never happen in the States!). I felt sad leaving the village, knowing that I may never see them again & knowing how badly they needed to know of the love of God. I will continue to pray for the two followers I met, that their light will be bright and not go out. I am praying that the whole village will be lead to the right path by the light of these two.

African Markets

First Market Trips

We had the opportunity during our first few weeks in the capital, to take a few market trips. One we were able to walk to. It was a HOT day & the market was a tad smelly. We saw amazingly different things. It was colorful and crowded. We weaved in and out and bought what we thought we needed. We learned so many things, like what was better to buy elsewhere, and how much to buy, etc. The butcher shop part was the least appetizing. Raw meat was laying out with flies swarming around while the butcher whacked at the meat. Some of the bones he pounded until they were like shrapnel. I'm so glad we learned that we could buy refrigerated meat elsewhere (and yes, we pressure cook it all!). It was fun to see the various beans in different shapes and sizes and colors. It was interesting to learn that you need to buy and eat your bananas & oranges while they are still green. Things ripen from the inside out in this climate. Oh, and watch out for small stones in the local rice!
At one point we were in the center of this covered market area (tin roofs or umbrellas for other stalls) and our kids started feeling boxed in. I was mentally prepared for it to be slightly unpleasant and overwhelming. Claire started climbing me, literally. She kept telling me there were too many people. Brent and I took turns holding her and telling her to either look up at the ceiling or to close her eyes. We were so thankful for the missionary guiding us around. She helped Claire pick out a bracelet & Ethan a ball. The terrifying trip to market was not so bad for them in the end.
We traveled by car to other markets (while someone watched our kids) to learn the ropes & were told we would not be able to remember it all the first time. They were right! This time, the market was crowded and maze-like. It spanned a large area & I refer to it as the “cave market” because it was a covered rocky area with rain dripping through – reminded me of being in a cave, only HOT. It was a huge place which will take me many times visiting before I can feel I've confidently mastered it. It was fun to see all the various produce available and the odd things you could find there. I liked this market but much prefer the idea of shopping with an experienced friend. We also had the chance to visit some Lebanese run stores that carried a lot of familiar (but expensive) French products. All in all, an interesting experience. Each time we come home from market was wash our shoes and feet and hands (you walk through some not so fun stuff, especially in the drippy rain). Ahh, the new shopping experience – what will I find next time?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Close encounters of the first kind

I've officially been in West Africa one week! Well, it's been fun. Today had some landmark events though. If you're squeamish about bathroom topics or scary small animals, don't bother reading any further.

So, I'm doing my business in the bathroom, and I see a flash of a small fury body along the floor. I put my feet up on the wall and finished up. Flushed and washed my hands. Then I sneaked out and trapped him in the bathroom. I didn't scream, though I wanted to a bit. I called a missionary who grew up here and told him what I caught and where.  He grabbed his broom and began the hunt. We heard banging and he came out with it, put it in a bag and saved it in the freezer.

I was a bit in disbelief. There was this sweet dead lil mouse (picture Beatrix Potter type) being saved in the freezer for another missionary's pet snake to eat. Ewww. Ok, we missionaries are a rare breed. But hey, I got kuddos for not screaming and for trapping it in the bathroom! :)

Today also marked the day that I got to see what having intestinal worms looked like (not anyone in our family). Of course, I am slightly medically minded, so I asked (yes, I asked!) to see when someone had the resident doc take a peek. Now I know what they look like. Good info for the future. We'll be taking worm meds as a preventative, I'd say.

So, my friends say, "Welcome to Africa!" I feel like I've officially joined a secret club. Hopefully, these experiences are the only "hazing" that the continent throws my way!  So good to be here - mice & all.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Beginnings in Africa - the big trip here

It's taken me 19 years that I know of to get to the mission field. So the three flights to get here seemed like a drop in a bucket when it comes to waiting. The kids did pretty well. Actually, great, considering Claire caught a cold & was sleepy on all flights and for days following (She's mostly over that now). I've asked for prayer for safety, health, and peace – well we got it. Previously, I had been, well, anxious to fly or even go to airports due to some previous rough trips. Pretty much since my dad's passing, I have dealt with some sort of anxiety - you begin to think about the brevity of life. No anxiety this trip though! Praise God for His peace!!! I have been asking for peace and receiving it in floods. We did wonderfully in all airports and on all flights. I was never scared nor even had an anxious moment. It's a wonderful feeling to be directly in the center of God's will. I am on the field in West Africa – finally. So thank you for your support in prayers and giving!!

I'm sitting in the guesthouse at night listening to African sounds through the screen windows as I am dripping with sweat. I feel gritty and hot, but very earthy, so for now I don't mind. I hear crickets. Women chatting loudly in a local language. I am not sure if they are arguing or very excited about something, but it sounds kinda angry (I've since been informed that they are not really angry). I don't mind the traffic noises. I like to hear my colleagues feet pounding the gravel trail around the compound when I wake up in the morning. I feel safe. It kinda feels like I'm at camp or something. My sentiments may change as we get out into the community tomorrow to go to the market. I'm sure there will be new sights and sounds and smells to get used to. It will be different when we arrive in the village. Right now we are with other missionaries in the capital, later we will be with just our two teammates in a sea of Africa faces. I am interested to see how I feel then, but for now, beginnings in Africa have been happy! I've been told that this country has no “honeymoon” phase as far as cultural adjustment goes. I think that it depends. For me, I have been walking towards this road for all my life & it just feels right. It's very weird, but I feel I'm home.

Below is the story of our recent hop over the pond for those of you who are interested in more details,feel free to read on.
We've arrived near the end of this rainy season. What a view as our plane descended upon the orange clay  contrasting against all the lush greenery! Walking off the plane onto the tarmack, we were hit by a wall of heat and humidity. I had been told about it, but thought it was an exaggeration until we walked smack into it. We were instantly offered help by men who wanted to get our luggage. I picked out one and directed him in French. All our bags and trunks made it. (Now we pray they get successfully toted up country.) The woman customs officer wanted to know if I spoke French or English. I told her English, hoping she would not know as much of my language. I was right. She asked for money outright & I told her I couldn't & that my man (the guy who I was paying to lug my cart of 6 bags) was walking away with our bags! Got out of paying that bribe & nothing was confiscated. Thank the Lord!
Our ride to the guesthouse from the airport here was so surreal! They drove us at night, with no street lights. There are no lanes for the traffic. You just have to carefully & quickly squeeze in. You might need to use your horn so someone sees your vehicle. There were scores of people carrying things in their arms and on there heads in large basins to sell to passers-by. People would come up to the window of the car to try to sell us apples, or bread, or flashlights. It was amazingly bumpy at times and other parts were very smooth (here in the paved capital). It was dirty and all the small buildings had rusty corrugated tin roofs on them. Unfortunately there is trash strewn everywhere across this beautiful city. We turned down one street and our colleague who was driving shouted out in French to let us through to the man (a local guy with no authority) who had blocked the road with a tree branch. The road block was for a marriage party. We finally turned around and found an alternate route. It was interesting to find out that that sort of arguing is expected here as part of the social game that people play. We got in and cried as we were reunited with other missionaries that we had not seen since they were in the States. It sure is good to be here, in the center of God's will for our lives. Thanks for helping us on our way!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hurry Up and Wait!

I hear that this is the lifestyle that many missionaries experience: Hurry Up and Wait.

They hurry to get in line at a bank in Africa only to find out it takes waiting most of the day and they will have to come back the next day to start all over. They hurry up to get trained before heading to the field for their first term and then wait for funds to come in. They wait for medical issues to clear up and then hurry to get visas and then wait at airports for their visas and passports to arrive by fed-ex before rushing to their flight only to sit for 9 hours and then wait for a connection for another 8 hour flight. I've been told this by other missionaries and have only experienced some firsthand.

Right now, we are rushing to get visas and paperwork for international health insurance set up in order to get on those long kind of flights in a few weeks. It's sort of surreal that this is finally happening. I am still prepared for some delay to come, but hopeful that we are in the home stretch of just getting to the field. I've been called since I was 14. If there is another delay, I can wait, but today I am hopeful that my life's calling will actually become tangible. I have been working to get to the field (mind you, I lived in France for a year and that was a mission!) and each step has been a part of this calling. I've come to grips with the fact that each step is a journey. It all comes down to how He called me, "I want you to BE a missionary." He didn't say, "I want you to DO missions." This hurry up and wait is a grand part of being a missionary in which I learn another fruit of the spirit: Patience.

Lots of work to do in the next few weeks. Not sure if I will get to blog again before we get to the field, so the next time I write, I might be writing from African soil !!
Something we've been looking forward to for a LONG time. 

Looking forward (photo credits?? sorry)

PS - New donation address as of  Sept. 2012
c/o Judy Trollinger
1384 Meadow Springs Dr.
Lilburn, GA 30047 USA 
(Judy's email address coming soon.) Our email will stay the same, but we will end up with limited web access.

Thanks for all your prayers and gifts! This is only possible through God's and your help.
Donations can be given Online as well: see the yellow donate button on the left.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

West Africa Wheels!!

We have some news (that a lot of you who get our newsletters already know!)...

We have a VEHICLE in West Africa, waiting there for us right now! YAY!!

This sounds cool, but let me tell you how cool.

We were given a goal:
Raise $50,000 to buy and ship a 4x4 rugged vehicle to Africa. Wow, that was pill to swallow. It seemed like an impossible goal.

We are close to heading to Africa now, and we have not raised the full amount. In fact, we're $20,000 short!

But God...
(You've all heard that "But God..." thing, right?)

Anyway, but God had other plans! Yes! *pumping fist in the air with "wahoo" excitement*

God planned for us to help out our colleagues in Africa. This young couple has just the type of vehicle we need, but it's too huge for just the two of them. They'd like to get something more appropriate.
So for $20,000, they sold us their vehicle! (They will use the money towards a smaller one for them) and we don't have to spend valuable time raising thousands of more dollars.

So it's a 2005 Land Cruiser, with just about 40K miles on it, and it's not seen much off-roading (super sweet deal). It's in good condish - as per our West Africa Branch mechanic.

Can we say... THANK YOU, LORD!!!

Type of vehicle we're getting - not an actual pic of it.

 PS- Sorry for the delayed news, we've been tossing strep throat back and forth around our house. Pray that we stay well and the enemy does not gain ground.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Today's Missionaries - Do they connect or not?

Most missionaries no longer board a ship to leave their families forever and pack all their belongings in a wooden box (coffin) and head off to a mission field, one from which they will never return (that was old-school. Do people still say "old-school"?). 

Missionaries used to write their families a snail-mail letter and wait for a few weeks to months for their letter to arrive in their family's mailbox. Then they would wait to get a letter back a few weeks to months after that to receive a reply. Wow! Nothing was instant. 

Times have changed.

Now we can e-mail if we get near a larger city that has internet available - yes there are still places in the world that lack internet coverage and electricity and running water (where we will be stationed in West Africa for one).

Sure, we can take a plane and arrive in a matter of 24 hours sometimes, instead of 3 months at sea (like our container cargo which still takes to arrive even today). I much prefer jet-lag and a day of motion sickness to 3 months of sea-sickness!

Even so, there are lots of non-instant things to consider about living on the mission field. All food must be made from scratch (I'll save that explanation for another post).

Never-the-less, we are blessed. There is the possibility to connect with my mom, with you, with churches and partners. It's amazing how much technology has advanced to make this possible!

 Today, missionaries have access to many advances in technology that aid in making "leaving their comfort zone," well - slightly less abrasive.   Still, are they really connected??

Missionaries, in spite of all the other tasks they have to keep up with,
 now have to struggle to remain current

I'm currently researching online (while Stateside so it doesn't take forever to load). I search for how to make my blog be more compatible with mobile users because most people are moving in that direction. I don't want to lose contact.

We care about all our partners and we pray for them too. You are our lifeline - connection.

 It's hard for missionaries to stay in touch, and in spite of technological advances some connections are getting lost
  • Some don't have e-mail - yes, there is still a generation (ones who don't read this blog either).
  • Some no longer read e-mails because they get too much junk mail.
  • Some only check Facebook - or twitter (still have to look into that, is it worth it?).
  • Some people used to support our ministry until they lost their jobs, and then they feel bad and lose contact too. It's OK.
  • Some just pass away. There is an older generation of church people that are very into missions that support us until they die. We're so thankful, but what do you do when they go home? 

How do we reach new friends and keep contact when we are miles away with spotty internet connections that we have to travel 4 hours to reach? The best way is through advocates. People, like you maybe, who share our need and our story and keep connected for us.

 Just wondering if there are any new advocates out there? Please write me. I appreciate your comments.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Share the Cure - an ounce of prevention a pound of cure!

Thought I would share a LINK to spread proactive prevention.
I know it says it's for breast cancer prevention, but knowing what my dad did to keep his type cancer at bay for a year and a half (when given 6 months or so to live), I'd recommend a lot of these preventions to anyone fighting cancer or to those who want to live healthy and "Think Green." If you're not interested in the preventions specific to breast cancer, you'll want to open the link and scroll to where they begin numbering items you can do to live green (about page 10 in an Adobe Acrobat reader).

Here's the link- please share: PDF for a healthy lifestyle

In memory of my dad, Rod, a great man, full of wisdom.

(PDF made available through the blog The Silver Pen)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Teaching the ABC's to little ones

photo credit Microsoft Office

I have two children; one reads really well & the other doesn't - yet!
One has a keen interest in reading and  began to read before age 4. Now Ethan's almost 7! Of course, he had some help with a wonderful Christian pre-k daycare that was run by former Bible translator missionaries. They used some great tactics and introduced the alphabet to him by focusing on one letter a week. Each story, project, craft, and snack would then correspond with the letter of the week. Brilliant!

My other child, Claire, is now 4 and is home educated. She loves books, but hates to perform. It used to be that if you asked her a letter, she'd get shy and then mad that you asked her. We had to find some ways to teach the alphabet without making it seem like work. (We also had to deal with some letter confusion simply because she was learning French by immersion at the same time she was learning the American alphabet - same letters basically but a different sound!). She's doing great now, and it's likely due to consistency (mostly on my husband's part - God love him, he's so great!)

We found some great tools in Sonlight's curriculum. We use the Alphabet Bingo, and Go A to Z game (which is basically two sets of Alphabet flashcards that you play "Go Fish" with), and also a box of 25 simple readers called Fun Tales. They are very helpful. We sound out the letters as we read and point to them & she has fun when she can guess the whole word as she hears us complete the sounds (very Sesame Street-esque, I know!). 
from Sonlight (see link above)
 We also use workbooks from Walgreens or even Wal-mart. Oh, and she loves Curious George, so we bought a Curious George alphabet book too. We even use We point out letters wherever we go. We sometimes trace letters in a pan of sand (or even rice).  Sometimes, I make soft baked pretzels and we shape them into letter shapes (or you can pour pancakes in letter shapes - put the batter into a plastic baggie, close it, and snip the corner to make it into a type of frosting/decorating dispenser, if you know what I mean.). 

bought elsewhere
 Our latest addition to our alphabet resources includes a book,
 The Sleepy Little Alphabet by: Judy Sierra.
Claire really loves this one since she is into anything that has to do with mommies and babies. There are capital letters in the book that are the parents to lowercase letters. She loves that we say that the mommy "T" tucks the baby "t" in bed. So this gave me an idea!

Here's what I did:
You know those paint strips they have at your Home Improvement store or even Wal-mart - the ones with different shades of the same color? Most people use them to create a color palate for their walls, well...

I took two sets of several colors (think I picked reds, blues, oranges, greens, and purples - so 5 sets, 2 of each color).

On one set I wrote a capital letter on each space and on the matching set I wrote the matching lowercase letters. I alternated sets as I went through the alphabet so that A, B, C, D, E were not all on one card (helps memory to learn out of order too). (I wrote a diagonal line between some like the lowercase "g" since I'd like our children to be able to recognize the "g" of one font and the "g" of another as the same sound and letter (see photo below).

Then I set aside the capital letter sets and cut apart only the lowercase ones so that what your left with is cards to match the lowercase letters with the capitals.

My custom-made Mommy & Baby Letter Match Game used with J. Sierra's book.

How to play our Mommy and Baby Letter Match Game:
You say the name of the letter and tell your child to put the baby letter with the mommy letter (if that's what works with your kid!). Then if they can't find it you give a hint, "It's on the red card," for example (that narrows down their guess to just 4 or 5 letters to choose from). You do this until all are matched and keep track of the ones they needed help with so that you know what to focus on later. We keep the cards in a plastic zipper bag. Claire loved this game and wanted us to find the letters in The Sleepy Little Alphabet book as we went along! Hope this helps your kiddos as much as it's helping Claire. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A day in the life...

What is it like when a missionary is back in the States? 

Sounds like it would be a bit of a vacation, right? Then again, some people think that our time in France was a vacation too.  Hmmm.... something doesn't line up with this sort of thinking - Maybe because it's not a vacation (though we do plan times for that.)

So what do you do while on Home Assignment (Furlough or Time back in the States)?

  1. We TRAVEL. (But wait? Don't you travel enough already?! Umm - yes.)

We're like nomads to some extent. We travel from state to state, staying with friends or family for a night here and there, sharing in churches and small gatherings along the way. People always ask us where we are from and where we live. Sometimes we tell them where we grew up and then that we are currently traveling and staying with friends. They would just give us that blank stare with their heads tilted to the side when we tell them that we have no home and all we own is on it's way to Africa or packed in our van (this time - last time we had a car!).  Thankfully, we are bunked down for a few months with friends while we travel to nearby states to share so we don't actually have to live out of our rental van.  We are SO thankful for a place to stay so we can have some stability.  Lots of people ask us why we do this sort of traveling. It's because we know people and supporters from Texas to Florida to New York to Ohio to Illinois and back down to Texas. (We don't even usually get a chance to make it to the West coast to see other friends and supporters.) It's a big circuit!

2. We actually do WORK - from "home." There's lots of prep work for life overseas.

You think you have a lot of emails to catch up on, well so do we! Mainly because we don't always have internet access & our main form of communicating with supporters is through email and newsletters and blog updates. Brent mainly responds to email and I run the blog and take photos & edit our newsletters. We also have to prepare tailor-made PowerPoint presentations and sermons sometimes. It's a large task to accurately portray another culture, one we're headed to but have not been to yet. It requires research. We also answer lots of questions & try to write hand-written Thank-you notes to our many partners.
Currently, we are comparing our packing lists (4 of them!) to make sure all that we need for Africa is there or on it's way via our suitcases. We have lists of what we sent by container, what we purchased from 2 in-country missionaries, and what remains to be brought (OTC meds and personal items for 2 years). We get our physicals, shots, passports, visas, etc. in line. Oh, and if that doesn't seem like enough, we home school two kids.

3. We CRY tears of sorrow and joy.

It's amazing to return to your homeland after a year in another culture and language. We get to see our family and friends & meet people's new babies. We say "goodbye" to our moms and dads and grandparents and siblings and cousins for two years when we leave them, even though we just came back from being away for a year. We get to know so many friends' families better when we stay with them. We went to a Memorial Day party at my friends' aunt's house and I just cried. It was picturesque Americana! Something I had missed terribly while we were in France. We had a 4th of July party with some other Americans in France last year and it was close but not the same. You can't get yellow mustard there. French people were asking us what we were doing. It was great but odd. What a sense of relief I felt as I shared Memorial Day this year with Americans, some of whom were Veterans. I thought to myself, I will miss this for the next two years. Not much will be the same in Africa.We are all excited, but sometimes we feel sad knowing our kids will miss out on things like Little League. We are so filled with joy to see our kids turn into happy little travelers who can get along with anyone and adapt to almost any new situation with little trepidation.

4. We RELAX and do some family maintenance.

We, just like you, get overwhelmed or stressed out or tired or even sick. We have had to learn to add in times of rest and fun as a family in our travels. I personally need to sit and do a craft or read a book to relax a bit. Our kids need to watch a family film now and then. Brent and Ethan need to get outside to play sports. We need to soak in time with the Lord as we listen to praise music. We all need to sleep and take times to unwind. There is a lot of stress that comes with transitioning between cultures and being in a constant state of upheaval (think of how many times we have to pack and unpack!).

Please keep us in your prayers as we find balance.
This missionary life is hard 
even though it's the adventure of a lifetime!

I often ask myself, "WILL IT BE WORTH IT?"

Imagine if ...
  • You were illiterate. 
That means right now you would not know what you were looking at. Someone would be reading it aloud to you. Do you remember the days when you didn't know how to read & what it felt like when you learned?

  • Your language had no writing system - No alphabet.
That means you would never have a way to write down anything important. There would be no written signs (other than just pictures) indicating important cautions. You would have no way to send a letter to family far away. You would have no way of applying for a better job - you'd likely have a hard time just scraping by.

  •  You did not have access to a Bible in your own language. 
Photo courtesy of the Seed Company.
That means you might not know God, or you'd have to take people at their word for what they tell you about Him - even if it was wrong. How would you draw closer to a distant, unknown God who loves you? You simply couldn't get a very deep relationship with Him without access to His Word.

Why am I having you Imagine 
your world like this?

Because this is the way it is for many around the globe. Many who have not heard. Many who have no access or if they do, they can not read what they have access to.

This is the world of people in my village-town in West Africa. The Konyanka have no Bible. No alphabet. No way to read it if they did.

Our family is headed to 
West Africa to live and work among the Konyanka. We plan to learn their language, develop a working writing system, and teach the people to read their own language while translating the Bible. It will be hard. It will take years. We will have to adapt to a bunch of new things - a whole new way of life. Is it going to be worth it?

I often write what I feel strongly about, so I apologize if sometimes it sounds like I am scared, or frustrated, or disappointed in what I may have to give up or do in order to live and serve in Africa. I often need a reminder - a good kick in the pants helps too!
It will cost me something, but it will be worth it.

It will be worth it to bring the Bible to the Konyanka people and teach them how to read in their own language. It will be worth it so that my African friends can know God. Our president at Pioneer Bible Translators (PBT) often reminds us,  "It will be worth it". 

 Photo credits disclaimer: All clip arts I use are royalty free. If I "borrow" a photo from somewhere else, I give credit to the original source; however, I do not recall whom to credit for the Rev. 7 photo. Sorry! Also, please ask before posting pics from my blog. Thanks. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Love and Apt. Living LINKS! :)

I love when I find a new blog like La vie en rose - It's right up my alley! It's French & so my style! I figured you all might enjoy it too.

Side Note:  I found her on Pinterest. I know you haven't seen me pin anything lately (Sorry!), but I've found a faster way for me to "surf" Pinterest - basically it involves me not even signing in and just clicking on pins from their sign-in page to open them in new tabs (then I go straight to the blog link on the pin, and voila!) If I were to pin as much as I like on there, I would end up at the end of the internet and the house would be a wreck!

Here's the two really good links I've found which will be interesting to....
  1. People who like Free Dates (think it's good for singles even though it says how to "Spice up your marriage" - in my case, I'm dating my spouse). 
  2. People interested in How to Jazz Up Apartment Living.
I love these because, let's face it, even missionaries need a bit of spice in their lives! *wink*

Monday, April 23, 2012

Signs of Spring! Mostly Picture Post

Beauty reflects the Creator.

Remember we're made in His image.

Get a whiff of that goodness!

Fun with family - love my sister-in-law, Carrie!

Easter at Great Grandparents House in NJ.

The Matriarch - Grammy Brollier

A Happy Hunter.

Love the Cheese! (And who says you need professional portraits?)

Proof I was at Easter dinner.

So, one year for Easter we made resurrection rolls (you can google them for the recipe) to illustrate how the Son of God was resurrected from death to life. The kids loved this object lesson of hiding a marshmallow tucked in a crescent roll. When it's baked it's gone! Just like an empty tomb. Although, our kids liked the lesson a bit too much, and since we don't do sweets often the kids kept asking when we were going to bury "baby" Jesus (my now 4 year old always thinks of Jesus as a baby). They just wanted the treat, but I'm sure they will never forget the lesson. Well, this year we, of course, talked about the real meaning, but also had an Easter Egg Hunt - no object lesson this time! There's something innocent about gathering candy-filled eggs in a basket and looking forward to opening them. I wish every chapter of life were like this. The excitement of the hunt and the prize. The joy of ownership and the savoring the prize hidden inside. Mmm.  Maybe more of life should be like this. Maybe it is all about perspective. We, as believers, are earthen vessels who contain the mystery of Christ. Easter eggs - Not a perfect analogy, but it's just some points to ponder along with the pics.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Change & Coping

I feel like a different me than when I set out a year ago.

The New me. The good with the bad and getting through big things.
What have I accomplished?
I've lived in another culture for a year.
I've learned a language.
I've helped my kids navigate public school relationships in another language and culture.
I've worshiped our Father in another language and shared about Him too.
I've traveled entirely too much.
I've dealt with chronic back pain and fatigue.
I've grieved lost time with my dad, knowing he might die of cancer.
I've dealt with stress.
I've had my ups and my downs.
I've become much more introverted - weird. (Those of you who knew me before might not believe this possible, but I've realized the benefit and the joy that comes from holding my tongue! It's so energizing to not be the center of attention now.)
I've become more appreciative. Really.
I've changed - too much to note each detail, but it's there, and I can feel it and maybe you can see it too - or maybe you can't.

Everyone asks how my trip was - unless they understand it was not a trip but my life for a year. (It's ok, really. I like sharing. I get it.)

I came home from France and waded through my thoughts and emotions of transitioning from my home culture of a year to my changed home culture in the States.

Life in the great USA is still great, but it is different.
I can't explain to you why, but I'll try.:
Maybe it's the busy that people hold as more important than time with family and friends.
Maybe it's that people are willing to check out from society by putting in their ear buds.

Maybe it's the technology. Everyone checking their $200 phones (or in my case a borrowed flip-phone - I have to adapt to culture even a bit, don't I? or my borrowed iTouch.)

Side Note:
I had to laugh at the fact that when I was visiting my family we were all playing a game against each other on our devices while we were in the same room! We were playing games just like we used to only this time it was without pencil and paper and it was called  "Draw Something" instead of Pictionary. (I thought this was fine since we had all thoroughly connected verbally for days as we visited Dad in Hospice and consoled each other - so we got our "Face Time" in *wink*).

Life here in the US is just faster, and I am amazed at how much we eat here in such little time.
In France, we ate well, but it was over many hours - not a marathon Thanksgiving stuff your face kind of meal, but a little of this and a lot of conversation. (Don't get me wrong - I love Thanksgiving!)
Here we also would grab a meal on the run and eat it in the car - why?? It's so much messier that way and a lot less enjoyable.
I miss walking and biking everywhere in France. Do people do that here? I find things are way too far away to make that work well. How dependent we are on fuel.

Anyway, life is different for me since my experiences have increased.  
Life is different for me now that my dad is gone. (I'm so thankful we were able to be with him before he passed away).

I've dealt with just a little bit of what my mom went through as my father's caregiver. I was able to help out for a few days as his sole caregiver while she was working, and I did not envy my mom's job of his full-time caregiver. For those of you out there who deal with that on a daily basis. I understand you. You are not alone. I felt so alone and lost trying to do what was best for dad in my human strength. When we're tired and worn, we sometimes forget to look to the One who cares for us.
1Peter 5:7 : Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 
I know I forgot to do that at times. If you are trying to cope with giving your all for your loved one, I encourage you to find someone to talk and cry with (Thanks Brent!). A friend, a caregivers' support group, a church cell group.  It helps. 
It's hard to see your loved one fail. To see their health decline and their mind go - to see time shift and slip from their reach while your life keeps blurring by. (I encourage you to look into respite care at a Hospice house if your loved one has a terminal disease and  care-giving gets to be too much.) It doesn't make you love them any less if you get help. 

I had to get creative with how I processed all that was going on
I needed to be alone a lot more.
I needed quiet. 
I needed to veg out in front of the TV so that I wouldn't dwell on it and hyperventilate. (I have had panic attacks over the past year - gee I wonder why!) My dad's life was slipping away - his skin could not keep his soul in his body any longer. 
I needed to cry. I still do.
I needed to draw again. 
Oddly enough I did not want to be with friends or talk on the phone about it. I was avoiding processing that part with anyone other than my family members (it was just to much to explain over and over.)
I needed to be with my kids sometimes and pour into them to fill the lack that I know the years ahead will hold. They are grieving too.

It's weird to think that I fit into a category now: 
I'm 32 and I no longer have a dad. My mom is a widow. 
When does this sort of thing happen? 
You never see it coming even when you have a year and a half to prepare after prognosis. 

Deut. 10:17-18 : 17For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.  

It's nice to know we will be taken care of.
I'm getting to the place where I understand the beauty of a life after this one.  Life everlasting is the HOPE that I can cling to when life on this earth gets me down. I'm so thankful that it is available to me and to you.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  (From John 3:16-17)

This Easter, I received a little gift from our Father.
I had a vision while I was wide awake. In my mind's eye I could see my dad. 

In this vision, he looked like himself but had the disposition of a little child. He was standing next to Jesus and he asked, "Hey, do those holes in your hands and feet still hurt?" Jesus told him, "Not anymore. They are scars of joy now." Then he hugged my dad and my dad grinned the most contented grin I have never seen him have in his entire life (and my dad laughed a lot!). What a treasure that I will always cherish: to know that there is joy and release from pain and sorrow waiting for those of us who trust in Him when we walk from life into eternity. 

This is how I cope.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ode to Dad

For my dad's memorial service, they asked if we would say something. I blubbered through this and managed to say goodbye to my father in the only way I knew how: with a sad but thankful heart. 

Reflections on my Dad   By: Laura (Fritsche) Brollier

My dad was there when I came into this world. 

I’ve known him all my life.

We’ve been great friends and stayed friends even through my stubborn teenage years. 

How can I say goodbye to someone so close?

He taught me how to walk, how to fall and pick myself back up again.

I could talk to my dad about anything. I’ll miss our weekly phone calls.

He taught me to dance, to write, to create. 

My dad and I used to paint together, write stories together, and laugh together.

My fondest memories with my dad are from times when we’d be cruising down the highway singing to the top of our lungs to some oldies song & then he’d tell jokes until both of our smiles were so wide from laughing that our cheeks would hurt. 

He worked so hard for our family and always taught us to respect our mother. He set a great example for us in marriage. 

My dad taught me how to cook when my mom worked night shift at the hospital. I didn’t appreciate learning that then, but I do now. Thanks, dad. 

I loved when my dad would pick me up from college and we’d get to drive “the scenic route” because I took a wrong turn. We’d picnic at state parks and just enjoy the beauty of nature. 

My dad taught me basic car care. Every time I check the oil, I think of him. 

My dad taught me how to use power tools. He gave me the courage to learn how to do anything & not to be scared to try typical “guy jobs” just because I am a girl. I loved working out in the garage with my dad building things with wood, using a soldering iron, painting with wax. 

My dad took me on my first date - just me and him. He taught me how a guy was supposed to treat me and told me not to settle for less. Thanks, dad. I found a good guy because of you. 

My dad taught me to reach for the sky in whatever I do. He believed in me. He thought I was smart enough and creative enough to do anything. 

Everywhere I look in my family, I can see dad:
I see him in my mom. He taught her gumption and know-how & taught her to laugh at the little things.
I see him in my brother, Eric. His humor. His passion to protect those he loves. His love for the Dallas, Cowboys.
I see him in my sister, Katie. His desire for knowledge – the eternal student. His ability to stand up for what is right.
I see him in my sister, Amy. His optimism & flair for fun. His hands-on way of helping others. If you ever needed someone or something- my dad was there. This lives on in Amy.
I see him in my kids. My son has his love for sports and that crazy Fritsche-boy energy that my dad had when he was younger. My daughter has his love for art and that red hair that we both got from his red beard (when he would grow it out). 

I see dad in me. 

I’ve always said that I am an amazing blend of my mom and dad. I know what comes from her and what I get from him. My dad always told me that of all his kids, I am the most like his mother. We both got a dose of grandma's strength and creativity, and tenderness & zest for life. It’s so amazing to me that dad and grandma, though they are both gone from this earth, get to live on in us. 

I know my dad is in heaven with Jesus. My dad loves God and wants everyone to know about God’s love for us. Dad led his dad to the Lord before grandpa passed in ’93. In my dad’s last few weeks he lead two people to the Lord. It was his passion to serve God as best he knew how. Now he’s seeing God face to face, loving Him and eternally living with Him. 

Say hi to grandpa and grandma for us, Dad. I will always remember you and you will be sorely missed until we join you and Jesus up there. I’ll try to do like you taught me and I’ll tell your stories to my kids. You were an amazing dad and friend. Thanks for everything, Dad. Know that I love you! 

Here's the link to his obituary: 

Picture Post - Back in the States 2012

Claire's 4th birthday party with family

Last pic of just me and my Dad

The amazing LOVE of my life who watched the kids so much while we were at Hospice with Dad.

My precious kiddos whom I appreciate a lot more now.

Ethan striking a pose in Florida.

Claire climbs trees in February in 89F degree weather!

Celebrating sister Katie's b-day 2012. Wearing a button with a pic of us as kids.

Florida time = Family Time

We had a great time catching up with family in Florida during February and March. We hadn't seen family in over a year & it was fun  to be with them and it was hard to say goodbye this time. We shared with church friends, but we really were in Florida to be with family.

So time with family...We got to celebrate Claire's b-day and my sister Katie's too. We did not get to celebrate my dad's though - he would have turned 63, but he got to celebrate his birthday in heaven. My dad finished his battle with cancer on March 3rd, 2012. I started this blog with an entry about my dad and how he still wanted us to go to France for the year even though he knew he was dying. We got to see him and be together for his last few days. He was waiting for me to come home before letting go of this life. It was a bitter sweet time that we all knew was around the corner.

Have you ever waited around for something you dread?
I was dreading for a year that I would get that call or an email saying I needed to come home. Dreading made me sick with worry and anxious about traveling. It was like a horrible doorway that I never wanted to walk through looming out in front of me, nearing ever closer.

Thankfully, Dad lasted and we made it back to the States and got to have time together. The Lord really worked it out well and blessed us. He even set it up that we would have a beautiful home with a fenced in backyard during this time. His timing is perfect. Imagine if I had to return to the States jet-lagged with little ones only to attend a funeral and turn around to head back overseas for language school again! So thankful that we had 2 months in Florida at the end of our French schooling. Time with family. Time with Dad. Time to help Mom clear out some things and Time to cope.

"For every season there is a time and a purpose under heaven." Popular song lyrics from the 60's taken straight from Ecclesiastes 3:

Ecclesiastes 3 (compliments of

 1To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
 2A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
 3A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
 4A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
 5A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
 6A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
 7A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
 8A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Jan. 2012 Departure & Re-entry.

As promised... here is the story of our departure from France and our re-entry into live in the States as we used to know it a year ago. Enjoy!

OK, so after a year in France, we packed up our apartment. We knew this day might come.

I had a mondo sized checklist for keeping things straight.

We got rid of almost everything (except 11 bags that we brought with us - 11 sounds like a lot except when it's a years worth of stuff or all you own). It was a whirlwind sort of experience trying to empty an apartment that had been passed on from student family to student family (at least 4 that we've been told of). Imagine trying to close out internet accounts in another language when you are not the name on the account - the original person had just passed it on from one resident to the next to make payment easier. Hmmph! It was easier to pay but harder to close the account. It's still open, btw. We're far across the pond & the internet service provider told us to just close our bank account instead. OK?? It worked. It's done. Check. (Did you know you have to save French check stubs for 10 years for tax purposes?)

Another thing on the to-do list... AT. THE. SAME. TIME....We also were ordering supplies online in France to set up house in Africa and get them shipped to the container (in the Mid-West of the USA) so they could be shipped to West Africa. *sigh*
I'd like to get a button to push that speaks to me in that computer generated voice: "That WASN'T easy!" You know, similar to the one that STAPLES puts out that calmly tells you "That was easy." I don't need my button to yell or even strain it's voice. It just needs to calmly state: "That wasn't easy." and then I can move on. So yes, we packed for Africa across the continents. It's done-ish. *wink* Check. And just so you know, if you plan to make a lot of purchases online from another country on Black Friday, the credit card sompanies will put a hold on your account!

Oh, and another thing we did all at the same time as these other busy checklist items were being tended to, was to start scheduling speaking engagements and lodging and vehicle borrowing for our future (now current) time in the States.

For a while my conversations with Brent would go something like this:

Have a place to stay for the first few weeks in TX?
Do you know where it is?
OK. Fine.
Have a place for the next month in FL?
Know where that one is?
How about the month of March?
No. Not set up yet. No idea what we're going to do in NY. 
Hmm. OK.

So none-the-less, our check list for departure from France was ticked off with these three main events getting checked off simultaneously:

1. Empty Apartment.
2. Pack for Africa.
3. Schedule for Stateside.

It really helped us learn to plan and organize things down to the tiniest detail. Not my forté, but I learned how to do it better than I ever had before.
Thank the Lord!

So then we had a great trip planned to get us back to the States: We'd leave our apt and stay with French friends for 2-3 days and then take a bus to Lyon, stay the night in a hotel, shuttle in the morning to the airport and just have one layover in London before arriving in Texas. Doesn't sound as stressful as our trip that brought us to France a year ago, does it?

Well, all went well except...
I started with some stomach bug while staying at our French friends' house. Not a gross kind, just a painful kind that won't let you sleep well. Not too bad. Then Ethan got it. He only puked once. Then we got to the hotel with no problem. I couldn't sleep. Since moving to France was rough on me, I've struggled with travel anxiety a bit. Only slept 2 hours before we got up at 4am to get to the airport. Flew to London fine. Started feeling weak in the airport. Got that really twirly feeling. Thought I'd pass out. Made sure to get my low-blood sugar back to normal by eating something. Still had to have Brent take me to the plane in a wheelchair. It was embarrassing. I'm an otherwise healthy woman who gets bouts of low-blood sugar, but this time I was worn down from a stomach bug and exhaustion. The flight was great. I was comfortably settled in and Brent had taken care of the kids, and bags and everything! Then he sat with the kids while I had my own seat by the bulk-head (leg room! for the tall sickie).

Can I just say here, Don't I have a great guy?!? Wow. Way to step it up, honey. Thank- you.

Claire threw up in the airplane bathroom. Then she slept the rest of the flight. Ethan & Brent watched movies and tried to sleep. (Brent got the stomach bug a few days after we got back to TX. Thought I'd have to preach for him that Sunday, but he was ok.)

Back to the plane. I normally get motion sick, but because of my stomach thing I was taking meds for my tummy and couldn't take dramamine. So the ride got bumpy at the end and I felt nauseous - didn't toss my cookies though - Score! Then because of the wind, our double-decker big plane slammed down. EEK! Everyone thought we had crashed. We were fine. Well. most of us. We were the last ones off the plane since I felt like I was going to pass out and vomit all at once. EMT people came to take care of me while the kids checked out the cockpit (since it's a bit scarey for the kids to see mommy in an oxygen mask). I was able to walk off the plane with help and then I got wheeled around the massive 100+ person line for customs (my family got to join me!). Thank you, Lord! Only to get stuck in the line for agriculture since we had to declare a French orange, of all things. Thankfully this line was only 5 people long since they scanned all our bags again. Then we had lovely PBT people waiting for us to pick us up. He didn't even ask why I was in a wheelchair. We told him, but it was nice not to be asked. Then we ate some dinner at the house here and went to bed by 7pm (2am France time- I think.) It really takes 24 hours for each time zone you've crossed to get adjusted and not have jet lag any more. I really think it's like working night shift, you can change your schedule but in the end you feel like years have been sucked off your life. Jet-lag stinks! But we survived that too. Our heavenly Father was really with us through it all.

Then the good part began. Getting to see friends we haven't seen in a year. Having to use a calendar to book times with people because so many wanted to see us, meet with us. Not to mention physicals and dental appointments too. Busy time! Note to self: Next time plan more time in the Texas area. Three weeks is not enough!

Oh, now for my favorite part of re-entry:
We got to go to church in ENGLISH for the first time in a year- yay!  We had the opportunity to share with churches about our time in France.

Here are some highlights we shared:

- Shared the "good news" with a friend from India. Told about our Father's power of healing and being led by dreams. My friend wants to get a copy of "The Good Book."
- Gave a Chinese copy of "The Good Book" to a follower so he could read in his own language. (He only had a few pages before).
- Shared with an Austrian atheist lady why "The Good Book" is alive & important to me.
- Talked to the Father about a French sister being plagued by nightmares for 2 years. She was delivered!
- Taught a French Sunday class of 7-11 year olds  about work on the field & fed them an African dish.

We were so blessed this past year & it was a blessing to share that with so many people in Texas. It's a little odd to be back to American ways and speaking in English. It feels good. It feels sad. We miss our friends and life in France. It wasn't a vacation. It was work and everyday life. It was good. We're so thankful for those who made it possible. Now just to raise funds for a vehicle so we can work in West Africa. In the mean time I'll be telling stories about what He's done & catching up on all the bowls of Cheerios with good milk & all the Mexican food we've missed.

Next stop: Florida for a month. Going to see family! Yay! Hang out with my dad who's fighting cancer (see first blog entries) and share at churches.  Not a bad re-entry. Weird and parts of it I would not like to repeat. All in all not bad.

Catching up - an explanation

I have not blogged since we left France.

It's time to begin the life journal once again. Plan to update you chronologically. :) Thanks for lending and ear - or in this case your eyes. *wink*

We just spent a year in France for language learning so that we can move to West Africa where French is the official language. This blog continues our family's journey as we follow the call to great adventures in trusting our Heavenly Father (because seriously, who would go to live in Africa with no running water or electricity without a higher calling drawing them there! *tongue in cheek*).

We're going to love it, even if I have to be convinced over and over again.

I've only been headed this direction since I was fourteen, and I'd say I have experienced every emotion regarding this route that one could have when entrusting my life and the lives of my family to the One who made us all.

 Lord, I love following you and I'll go where you want me to go, but please help me love it!

Mark 9: Help my unbelief!

So happy reading! You'll be getting a bunch of updates all at once... read on. Hope you enjoy!
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